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Senior Litigation Paralegal Beth King Reflects on a Long and Rewarding Career

published June 23, 2014

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Beth King
Professional Overview

Ms. King has spent a great deal of her career advancing the paralegal profession through active involvement in national and state organizations. Ms. King held several positions with the Oregon Paralegal Association and she served on the National Federation of Paralegal Association as vice president of professional development and as regional director. She also chaired NFPA's strategic planning committee. Ms. King is currently a Board Member of the Foundation for the Advancement of the Paralegal Profession. She is the recipient of the 2008 William R. Robie Leadership Award, a national award recognizing contributions to the paralegal profession. She is also a member of the OLP.

Ms. King has been an instructor for legal professionals throughout the United States in client communications, dispute resolution, case management, trial preparation, discovery, ethics, and legal writing. She led and taught at two paralegal training programs in Oregon. Ms. King is currently an adjunct instructor at Portland Community College.

She is a contributor of professional articles to Paragram, Reporter magazine, KNOW magazine, Sue magazine, and Legal Assistant Today. Ms. King also assisted with the PCCE Entry Level Certification Exam, as an item writer and wrote the Legal Writing and Critical Analysis section for the PCCE study manual.

In 2011, Ms. King was featured in KNOW magazine in an article entitled "Where in the World is Beth King, RP?" When asked about her job with Vestas Americas, she noted:
"Most corporations and their employees don't know much about the law and risk management. Their expertise is in providing services or producing products. My job is to identify, weigh and reduce risks. I educate employees about policies and reducing risk and manage and collect discovery - they call me the document archeologist. When we use outside counsel, I partner with the firm to most cost effectively manage cases and act as the internal point person for documents and employee interviews. I attend depositions, mediations, trial, document reviews and interview witnesses.

Since our parent company is in Denmark, my job has taken me there for meetings and to interview witnesses and review documents. Denmark is about the size of Oregon and there are offices all over Denmark, so I get to do my job and see the sights by driving all over Denmark (LEGOLAND was my favorite spot). We also have in-house legal personnel at a number of sister companies worldwide. We get together one to two times per year to share information and learn about the law in other countries. We've met in Copenhagen, US, Athens, Greece and have one scheduled in Germany. I also like to visit our service sites around the country when I have to be in the area and, yes, I have climbed a wind turbine."
Ms. King was born in Des Plaines, IL. She relocated to Oregon in 1980 with her son. Ms. King earned her B.A. in Management and Organizational Leadership from George Fox University and she received her PACE RP designation in 2000. Her son's family resides in Jacksonville, FL, where he is an engineer and Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. His wife is a nurse and they have three children: Jaykob, 14 (a fabulous soccer player who loves Messi); Londyn (a dancer and artist) and Lauryn (a gymnast and lizard catcher), both 9.

When Ms. King isn't working, she enjoys reading mindless books while hanging out at the Oregon coast with her friends, the Baughmans; traveling to see her grandkids; teaching; spending time with friends; and visiting people from her church who are stuck in their homes.

Is she currently reading any books? Ms. King stated:
"I am usually reading 5-6 books at a time, depending on my mood: the text for whatever course I'm teaching, some kind of geeky leadership guide, a devotional, an easy read mystery (there are too many good ones to mention) and 'something else.' My current 'something else' is Bamboo Promises by Vicheara Houn. This is a must read. She started it as therapy to deal with the wounds she had from the Cambodian genocide, but it turned into an engaging historical novel of the events at the time."
Does Ms. King have a favorite restaurant? "I love any place with fresh fish! Oregon is really a culinary capitol so we have lots of choices. In the end, I love to cook so I am very happy to just try new things at home. Although not a restaurant, I really enjoy eating out at my friend Brenna Dickey's house. She is an amateur chef and always serves a 5-course meal that is way better than any restaurant."

Ms. King's Successful Career

How did Ms. King start out as a paralegal? "I started by working for a small three attorney firm - excellent experience when you are getting started." Over her 30 year career, she specialized in litigation and trials for medium and large size municipalities, corporations, and law firms, with a focus on employment, environmental clean-ups, energy, construction, toxic mold, insurance defense, as well as class actions.

Her experience remained in litigation her entire career. Why, then, did Ms. King decide to move in-house? She said:
"Most people want to continually challenge themselves with expanding responsibilities. Working as in-house paralegal allows a person to be part of the whole process - from working alongside your colleagues as they make business decisions to helping them issue spot and understand the legal implications. It was a natural progression to utilize my work history, management training and life experiences to move into a different function.

My job is as varied as they come. My job is to locate witnesses, collect records and work with outside counsel on litigation matters. I issue and manage our legal holds as well. While my primary function is litigation, we have very little of it. A fair amount of my time is spent developing short trainings for risk management. I also support our sales team by dealing with the licensing issues in each of the states and provinces, as well as support the employment group. Our legal group supports the US and Canada, as well as our manufacturing plants in Colorado."
Why did Ms. King decide to become a paralegal? "It was happenstance that I entered the profession. Great mentors and great training opportunities influenced me to become a paralegal."

What does she think are the keys to becoming a successful paralegal? "Work ethic, professionalism, tenacity, and level-headedness."

What's one of the things that Ms. King finds most challenging about her job? "Figuring out who has what information. Where do I go to find this information? Global corporations aren't always easy to navigate."

What would she say is the most important thing she learned as a paralegal? "Don't take it personally. People get stressed and may get snippy. Your work may be revised so much it begins to look bloody with red ink, but it is just style; we did our job with the draft."

What is the difference between Ms. King and other paralegals doing the same thing that she does? "I have a can do attitude, and am willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish the goal. Paralegals are like a concierge to the legal profession. They have to be able and willing to do everything."

What is the best part of her job? "That is kind of hard to answer. I love traveling which I have occasion to do in this global organization; I've been to Denmark multiple times, Greece, Sweden and Holland (for work)."

What's Ms. King's favorite part of her day as a paralegal? "Lunch."

What is she known for professionally? "I am known for consensus building, leadership, and having a passion for the profession and its advancement."

What does Ms. King think about the paralegal field in Oregon today? She asserted:
"Oregon is an awesome place to be a paralegal. Most attorneys embrace paralegal usage and they are great delegators so our jobs are always challenging us. I'm surprised to be saying this, but I'd like to see more limited license tasks and this is a natural place for an experienced paralegal. The legal profession in Oregon has worked hard at providing cost effective legal services to low and mid income families, but we just haven't found the right solutions."
If she were not in this profession, what would she most probably be doing? "Writing children's books and trying to see the world through the eyes of my grandkids."

What motivates Ms. King to be a paralegal every day? "New challenges and opportunities motivate me. Also, I think another motivating factor is my peers. I have so many paralegal friends (mostly paralegal friends, in fact) and it is just motivating to be in our field because we urge one another on. Debbie Hindin-King and Diane Thompson are real drivers for me."

Giving Back to the Profession, Volunteer Activities and People Who Inspire Ms. King

Does Ms. King consider herself a mentor? "I guess by default. I believe in giving back to the profession that gave so much to me, which is mentoring."

Is she involved in any volunteer activities? "Yes, with my church and professional organizations."

Who inspires Ms. King? She acknowledged:
"Pam Pendley, nka Packard, was definitely my first mentor. She took me under her wing, taught me how to do paralegal work, introduced me to OPA and helped me get the confidence I needed to carry me through to the next level. Behind her, I have been blessed to work with some of the best attorneys in Portland, a number of whom became judges, including the Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice. I'd name them all, but fear I'd miss one and that would be awful."
What Inspires Her to Teach, A Frequent Contributor of Professional Articles, Advancing the Paralegal Profession and Ms. King's Goals

What motivates Ms. King to teach? "Gosh, I don't know. I think I received so many blessings early in my career that I want to return them to up and comers. People love learning and I am a better paralegal for the teaching that I do."

She contributes articles to Legal Assistant Today, Sue magazine, KNOW magazine, Reporter magazine, and Paragram. Will Ms. King continue her writing engagements? "I can't change my spots so yes!"

Ms. King has spent much of her career advancing the paralegal profession through active involvement in state and national organizations. How influential has she been in accomplishing her goals at the state and national level? Ms. King explained:
"We'd all like to think we made a difference, wouldn't we? In the end, the old adage' hindsight is 20/20' seems to be true. I don't really think about being influential. I do feel that I have the ability to build consensus and that has impacted both the national and local associations.

I am pretty excited about my two most recent activities. First, I'm on the task force for the Oregon Limited License Technician and coordinated a Town Hall meeting of stakeholders to talk about the issues. Then, in April, I spearheaded the OPA 35th Anniversary Celebration and raised $5000 for the Campaign for Equal Justice."
She has accomplished a lot in her career. What's next for Ms. King? "I'll just keep doing what I'm doing."

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